Sunday, January 22, 2017

En Provence Mystery Quilt 2017

En Provence Mystery Quilt 2017

In a recent blog post I shared that I was going to be completing the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt that started on black Friday 2016. When I started I thought I might be over my head because I have never made a quilt this large or with this much piecing. I learned so much making this quilt. It has several mistakes but overall I am pleased with how it turned out. It was supposed to be a "scrappy" quilt, and for the most part I tried to keep to those rules. (I also have never made a scrappy quilt- I have never been able to overcome my OCDishness) I will be making more scrappy quilts in the future. This week I will be piecing the backing. I found a beautiful fabric that is a black background with sprigs of lavender all over. I found it at a local quilt shop but they only had 4 yards (which I bought) but it is not big enough to cover so I will be cutting it into large blocks and piecing it with a solid dark purple and a solid lavender. Then it will be making a trip to the long arm quilter. This quilt is much too large for me to quilt on my machine. So drum roll please...................

I cannot wait to put this on my bed. 


Friday, December 9, 2016

Mystery Quilt 2016 Clue # 2

Well it has been a busy week at this house- it is amazing that I even found time to quilt. Everyone in our family is involved with out local ballet company, either dancing, doing sound or props for their productions. Last week was our performance of the Nutcracker. We move in to the theater, set up the stage, two dress rehearsals and five shows later we pack it all up again. Add to that three parties, one birthday and a choir concert on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the same week....phew is all I can say. So naturally I relaxed on Monday by starting clue number two of my mystery quilt. 

This step involved more neutral fabric, which I had run out of, so first thing Monday I was off to hobby lobby to buy more fabric! While I was there, found a seam gauge tool. I have been reading about these and thought it might be helpful keeping my seams allowances right. My sewing machine foot is a 1/4 inch foot but sometimes I get off track feeding the fabric through. I was very pleased with this little tool. 

I began cutting the strips of neutral fabric using a set of templates called the Tri-Recs. This block is called a triangle in a square. You cut the larger triangle from the neutral fabric and then two mirror image of the smaller triangle to sew on each side. This step was a little trickier than it looks but after the first mess up I got the hang of it. 
I made 100 of these little beauties! Clue number three came out today- I'll give you a hint- it will be in my favorite color!

Bonnie Hunter did a beautiful job choosing colors for this years Mystery Quilt. (Her quilts are all stunning). You can find her instructions on her blog here.

Dan's family is coming in for a family reunion this weekend so I won't be able to start on clue #3 until Sunday afternoon. I might go into withdrawal!
Completed blocks for Clue #2

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mystery Quilt 2016~ Clue # 1

You may or may not know that one of my passions in life is quilting. When I went back to school two years ago, I had little or no time to quilt. However, since graduation, I have been making up for lost time!  A few months ago, I found a group on Facebook for quilters called Quiltville Open Studio. It was through this great bunch of ladies that I learned about Bonnie Hunter, a nationally known quilter/teacher, and her awesome blog. For the past several years, Bonnie has done what she calls a "Mystery Quilt". I love a good mystery so naturally this intrigued me. This years quilt was inspired by Bonnie's trip to Provence France. At the end of October, Bonnie posted on her blog this years inspiration and color pallet, with directions to search our "stash" for fabrics we would use in the quilt. The "mystery" is that we do not know what this quilt will look like. Bonnie will give us a "clue" each week instructing us which fabric to use and what block to make. 

Now, those of you that know me well, know that I am a planner and like to know all the details before I start doing ANYTHING...including quilting. I have also never made a "Scrappy" quilt. (Scrappy quilts are just what it sounds like. Using scraps of fabric from other quilts you have made, or fabric from your stash, in blocks to complete the quilt) 

Amazingly, this sounded really fun to me and in the spirit of trying new things, I decided to jump aboard this Mystery Quilt train. As soon as the color pallet was posted, I dug through my fabric choosing my fabric. (would you believe that the queen of purple had NO purple fabric and actually had to buy some? Yeah- go figure) 

While everyone across America waited for Black Friday sales to begin...we quilters anxiously awaited for our first clue to be posted.

Clue 1: make 221 four-patch blocks from the neutral fabrics we chose.  

I began sewing strips together and then cutting them into 2 inch blocks. The instructions said to make the four-patches as naturally scrappy as I could. There is no "naturally" scrappy in my nature, so I decided to try a tip that one of the ladies on Facebook posted. Put all of the 2 patch blocks in a bag, draw out 2 and sew them together for a four-patch block. 

So....into the bag they went. I did, for the most part, sew the blocks together that I drew out. It took me a few days, but all 221 blocks are finished...and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how scrappy they turned out. On top of that, I learned several new techniques. One of them was how to "spin" my seams to reduce the bulk in the center of the four patch. 

 Above are the 2 patch blocks cut from the strips. To the right is a picture of the "seam spinning"   
Now to wait for Friday to find out what clue number 2 will be! 
Four patch blocks all finished.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Big Reveal seems like forever ago that we began the renovations to our home, but today,  I'd like to take you on a tour of our project, from start to finished.  


A few days after I graduated in May, I rewarded myself for all my hard work by "binge watching" the home improvement show 'Fixer Upper'. I love Chip and Joanna's farmhouse style. I immediately wanted to transform our home. After mom and I visited a friends beautiful new home, we started talking, and you know what happens when two women start talking about re-decorating their home don't you? The ideas start flowing and the walls come tumbling down! 

I started the changes one Saturday afternoon by buying a gallon of paint and in a few hours, my bathroom had a new look. The picture below shows what the bathroom looked like before. The walls were a light sage green.

This is the after............

I love the cocoa walls with the white trim. You can see in the top photo, the old enamel topped cabinet that I found in the basement and painted a few years ago. It matches the walls perfectly now. 

Two days later we started the kitchen. The very first thing we did was.....

Set up a coffee station, of course! 

Seriously, though, here is a look at the kitchen before we began. When we bought the house 10 years ago we removed the wallpaper and painted the walls a warm cinnamon color. You can see it was basically a "U-Shaped" layout with the fridge opposite the stove and the sink between.

After choosing paint colors etc. Mom and I started painting cabinet doors and walls. Dan and Kate (the daughter of a dear friend who is like a niece to us) started taking cabinets off the wall and moving the fridge, re-routing electric, and moving the water lines. Then it was time.......
Left: Abi takes a shot at it. Top right: Britni takes over Middle: Kate takes a whack. Bottom: Little Belle with a little hammer.
Demo day!

 The wall is finally coming down! Even little Belle got in on the action. The wall we took down was the wall that the fridge was on in the "before" pic. We all worked tirelessly.....making and installing a base footer( to sit upper cabinets that were on this wall under a new counter-top), putting up bead board ( I settled for this, I really wanted shiplap) installing new lighting and tile back-splash (guess who learned how to grout it all by herself...thank you Youtube!)........and after weeks and weeks........Here is the moment we have all been waiting for..................

Now you know, as Dan was working his magic in the kitchen with the construction, I couldn't just sit around doing nothing, so the living room and dining room got a new look as well. Mom & I started by painting the walls a steel grey color and painting the trim a crisp white. We painted two armoires, six chairs, and a piano black. We re-arranged all our art-work etc. and came up with this.............
This is the foyer

These pictures from the living room don't really do it justice but you can get the idea. There was a pass through over couch, but it was only half of this opening. We extended it up to the bulk-head and removed a shelf that stuck out into the room over the couch.

And last but not least, the dining room. I don't think the pictures give the full effect that you get in person. We love the new look and are looking forward to entertaining over the next few months so we can share it with family and friends in person. 
Thanks for touring our home.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Blog Series Begins~Pantry Organizaion

Summer has finally begun! Yes, I know it is the second week in July and most people have probably been celebrating summer for a month or so, but we had a crazy May and an even crazier June ending in our second "vacation trip" over the 4th of July weekend. Phew! Now that all that is over with I can get down to business with my summer blog series. I am not a fan of hot summer weather at all, so while the temperatures creep up over uncomfortable, I will be busy inside. During the past two years while I was working full-time and going to school full-time, things around our home have gotten a little unorganized, to say the least. My mission       (whether I choose to accept it or not) is to get this place organized and simplified by September(ish). With my trusty side-kick, mom, by my side I decided that my first(and most needed) place to make-over was the pantry. After searching Pinterest for several days, I found some great ideas for organizing a pantry. Early Friday morning, mom and I schlepped to the dollar store to purchase a variety of containers to use for can't beat the price! 
As you can see from the before shot this pantry definitely needed an overhaul! We began by emptying the contents and grouping everything into categories like baking, canned goods, pasta etc. (We needed 3 tables, two snack tray tables and the floor to fit it all. How it fit in the pantry before I will never know.) Once everything was out we took off the shelf liner and wiped down each shelf. Next, we fit each "food category" into a storage container and added a label. I found some pretty labels at the dollar store too.

From start to finish, including shopping time, the entire project took five hours. I think you'll agree that it was five hours well spent. (I even used power tools to screw the bins on the side to the wall! This might not be impressive to some, but to those who know my skill level in this area, they will be amazed) 
Total cost: $ 20.00 ~ OCD issues fulfilled: Priceless!

I pity the fool who messes this pantry up!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Homeschool Treasure

One of my favorite subjects to teach my girls has been poetry. I am not talking about an English unit study of poetry where we learn the different types of poems and how to write them, but learning to read and memorize poetry. I absolutely love to use the book "Poems For Children, A Delightful Collection for Boys and Girls" complied by Kate James. I love the poems. I love the Art work. I have loved this book so much that it is literally falling apart at the seams.  It is not an expensive book- I have found it on Amazon for around $10 used, sometimes more, but I have put off ordering it for one reason or another for years. Today I was spending the day with my Mom and Sister in NJ and we decided to go Antique Store Hopping. In the first store I found a creamer and sugar bowl set that goes with a set of Liberty Blue transfer wear that I collect at a steal for only $7.50 for the pair. In the next shop I was delighted to see a perfect copy of "Poems For Children..." sitting on the shelf. It doesn't even look like it has ever been opened. I was even more delighted when it was only marked $5.00! I can't wait to bring it home so Abi can pick out a poem to work on this coming week. Years ago, we were in a wonderful co-op that was very Charlotte Mason style in  structure. Both the children and the moms chose poems to memorize and share with the group. My little Abi, only two, memorized this poem from the book:

Little Things
 Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land

Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages,
of eternity

Ebenezer Cobham Brewer

I wonder what she will choose at almost eleven? I can't wait to find out. 

A Path Unknown

May 11, 2016
In August of 2014, I started down a path with an unknown destination. At the time, I had been working in bookkeeping for 14 years and I thought that it might be helpful to take an accounting course to put some formal learning behind the experience. Dan and I talked and prayed about it and, with his encouragement, I was able to pursue a grant and register for three classes. I still remember how surreal it was purchasing my books and walking into my first night class. (praising God for the first accounting book was $450.00!) I arrived early, and as I was sitting in the room alone, reality hit me and I remember thinking "what on earth are you doing? How are you going to work all day and keep up with three classes? What about my family?" and immediately I heard a still small voice say "be still and know that I am God." The semester progressed, I was amazed that I was actually understanding what I was learning, and fourteen weeks later I took my first set of final exams in almost 30 years. A year and half and 50 credits later, I am 1 week away from walking across a stage and receiving an A.A.S in Accounting. (I won't receive the actual degree until 8 weeks later) 
I could never have gotten this far with out the help and support of my family, Dan who undertook overseeing Abi's homeschooling, Mom who cooked and cleaned and kept the home-fires burning, Britni & Zack for driving Abi to dance classes and keeping an eye on her for us when either Dan or I were not home, Abi for being patient when mommy couldn't be home or had to spend every night and weekend studying. Many sacrifices were made for me to accomplish this feat, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all. Most of all, I thank the Lord for leading me down this path, calming the anxious moments with His peace, and enabling me to remember what I needed to not only graduate, but graduate with high honors and a 4.0 GPA. 
It was very difficult for me to walk down this path, I constantly questioned was I doing the right thing? Even though it meant sacrificing much of the life I was used to, I had an underlying peace. Like I was supposed to keep going. What now? I decided to stop working full time in February and I am looking forward to returning home and taking over Abi's homeschooling once again. I am also praying about a few options that would allow me to use my degree to work from home. I am still not sure where this path is ultimately leading but I know who does, and He will make my path straight.